“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these.”—Buddha (via nirvikalpa)
“Perhaps I may clarify the historical background of the present situation if I say that the first industrial revolution, the revolution of the ‘dark satanic mills,’ was the devaluation of the human arm by the competition of machinery. There is no rate of pay at which a United States pick-and-shovel laborer can live which is low enough to compete with the work of a steam shovel as an excavator. The modern industrial revolution is similarly bound to devalue the human brain at least in its simpler and more routine decisions. Of course, just as the skilled carpenter, the skilled mechanic, the skilled dressmaker have in some degree survived the first industrial revolution, so the skilled scientist and the skilled administrator may survive the second. However, taking the second revolution as accomplished, the average human being of mediocre attainments or less has nothing to sell that is worth anyone’s money to buy.”—
Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics, 1948.
At this moment were the 1% corporate pillagers of the ‘information age’ ushered into the world.
The difference between ethics and religion is like the difference between water and tea. Ethics without religious content is water, a critical requirement for health and survival. Ethics grounded in religion is tea, a nutritious and aromatic blend of water, tea leaves, spices, sugar and, in Tibet, a pinch of salt.
“But however the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water,” he says. “While we can live without tea, we can’t live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion.”
Most of us 99-percenters couldn’t even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It’s called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don’t do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn’t take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life’s savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.
But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.
Nobody with real skin in the game, who had any kind of stake in our collective future, would do any of those things. Or, if a person did do those things, you’d at least expect him to have enough shame not to whine to a Bloomberg reporter when the rest of us complained about it.
“Congress is on the verge of wrecking the greatest engine of innovation and greatest platform for democracy ever known to human kind. And for what? For the sake of propping up an ossified industry that refuses to change with the times, but happens to make a lot of campaign contributions.”—SOPA: Washington Vs. The Web (via azspot)
Two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the Republican crackup threatens the future of the Grand Old Party more profoundly than at any time since the GOP’s eclipse in 1932. That’s bad for America.
The crackup isn’t just Romney the smooth versus Gingrich the bomb-thrower.
Not just House Republicans who just scotched the deal to continue payroll tax relief and extended unemployment insurance benefits beyond the end of the year, versus Senate Republicans who voted overwhelmingly for it.
Not just Speaker John Boehner, who keeps making agreements he can’t keep, versus Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who keeps making trouble he can’t control.
And not just venerable Republican senators like Indiana’s Richard Lugar, a giant of foreign policy for more than three decades, versus primary challenger state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who apparently misplaced and then rediscovered $320 million in state tax revenues.
Some describe the underlying conflict as Tea Partiers versus the Republican establishment. But this just begs the question of who the Tea Partiers really are and where they came from.
The underlying conflict lies deep into the nature and structure of the Republican Party. And its roots are very old.
As Michael Lind has noted, today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority – predominantly Southern, and mainly rural – that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.
It’s no mere coincidence that the states responsible for putting the most Tea Party representatives in the House are all former members of the Confederacy. Of the Tea Party caucus, twelve hail from Texas, seven from Florida, five from Louisiana, and five from Georgia, and three each from South Carolina, Tennessee, and border-state Missouri.
Others are from border states with significant Southern populations and Southern ties. The four Californians in the caucus are from the inland part of the state or Orange County, whose political culture has was shaped by Oklahomans and Southerners who migrated there during the Great Depression.
This isn’t to say all Tea Partiers are white, Southern or rural Republicans – only that these characteristics define the epicenter of Tea Party Land.
And the views separating these Republicans from Republicans elsewhere mirror the split between self-described Tea Partiers and other Republicans.
In a poll of Republicans conducted for CNN last September, nearly six in ten who identified themselves with the Tea Party say global warming isn’t a proven fact; most other Republicans say it is.
Six in ten Tea Partiers say evolution is wrong; other Republicans are split on the issue. Tea Party Republicans are twice as likely as other Republicans to say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, and half as likely to support gay marriage.
Tea Partiers are more vehement advocates of states’ rights than other Republicans. Six in ten Tea Partiers want to abolish the Department of Education; only one in five other Republicans do. And Tea Party Republicans worry more about the federal deficit than jobs, while other Republicans say reducing unemployment is more important than reducing the deficit.
In other words, the radical right wing of today’s GOP isn’t that much different from the social conservatives who began asserting themselves in the Party during the 1990s, and, before them, the “Willie Horton” conservatives of the 1980s, and, before them, Richard Nixon’s “silent majority.”
Through most of these years, though, the GOP managed to contain these white, mainly rural and mostly Southern, radicals. After all, many of them were still Democrats. The conservative mantle of the GOP remained in the West and Midwest – with the libertarian legacies of Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft and Barry Goldwater, neither of whom was a barn-burner – while the epicenter of the Party remained in New York and the East.
But after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as the South began its long shift toward the Republican Party and New York and the East became ever more solidly Democratic, it was only a matter of time. The GOP’s dominant coalition of big business, Wall Street, and Midwest and Western libertarians was losing its grip.
The watershed event was Newt Gingrich’s takeover of the House, in 1995. Suddenly, it seemed, the GOP had a personality transplant. The gentlemanly conservatism of House Minority Leader Bob Michel was replaced by the bomb-throwing antics of Gingrich, Dick Armey, and Tom DeLay.
Almost overnight Washington was transformed from a place where legislators tried to find common ground to a war zone. Compromise was replaced by brinkmanship, bargaining by obstructionism, normal legislative maneuvering by threats to close down government – which occurred at the end of 1995.
Before then, when I’d testified on the Hill as Secretary of Labor, I had come in for tough questioning from Republican senators and representatives – which was their job. After January 1995, I was verbally assaulted. “Mr. Secretary, are you a socialist?” I recall one of them asking.
But the first concrete sign that white, Southern radicals might take over the Republican Party came in the vote to impeach Bill Clinton, when two-thirds of senators from the South voted for impeachment. (A majority of the Senate, you may recall, voted to acquit.)
America has had a long history of white Southern radicals who will stop at nothing to get their way – seceding from the Union in 1861, refusing to obey Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, shutting the government in 1995, and risking the full faith and credit of the United States in 2010.
Newt Gingrich’s recent assertion that public officials aren’t bound to follow the decisions of federal courts derives from the same tradition.
This stop-at-nothing radicalism is dangerous for the GOP because most Americans recoil from it. Gingrich himself became an object of ridicule in the late 1990s, and many Republicans today worry that if he heads the ticket the Party will suffer large losses.
It’s also dangerous for America. We need two political parties solidly grounded in the realities of governing. Our democracy can’t work any other way.
“Apple is going absolutely ridiculously with this whole patent war. Rather than follow tradition and, you know, innovate and compete, they try to destroy the opposition with their incredibly vague patents.”—
Don’t laugh. Apple stole the graphic-user-interface from PARC fair and square, and established a tradition of thievery. Now Apple wants to sue other players when they follow this tradition? Jeez…no honor among thieves.
How much has it cost the entertainment industry to convince Rep Lamar Smith to introduce and ram through SOPA, which will cost the American economy billions, which will nuke the games, microprocessor, search, and other high tech companies in his Texas district? A mere $50K a year for 10 years. You know, it’s one thing to be a sellout; but to sell out so cheaply — man, have some self-respect.
Just so we’re clear, this week, a leading presidential candidate articulated his belief that, if elected, he might (1) eliminate courts he doesn’t like; (2) ignore court rulings he doesn’t like; and (3) take judges into custody if he disapproves of their legal analyses.
I hope it’s unnecessary to note that Gingrich’s vision is stark raving mad.
I’ll just conclude with this observation: Newt Gingrich believes Barack Obama is a wild-eyed fanatic, guided by an extremist ideology, hell bent on overseeing a radical overhaul of the American system of government.
“We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only about ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility, or forgiveness lost their depth and dimensions. The previous regime…reduced man to a force of production and nature to a tool of production … It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy, and stinking machine, whose real meaning is not clear to anyone.”—Vaclav Havel (via ijebites)
Avaaz is delivering our messages directly to senior White House officials in less than 24 hours - let’s reach 1 million signatures before then! We’re nearly there — sign now and share with everyone
Right now, the US Congress is debating a law that would give them the power to censor the world’s Internet — creating a blacklist that could target YouTube, WikiLeaks and even groups like Avaaz!
Under the new law, the US could force Internet providers to block any website on suspicion of violating copyright or trademark legislation, or even failing to sufficiently police their users’ activities. And, because so much of the Internet’s hosts and hardware are located in the US, their blacklist would clamp down on the free web for all of us.
The vote could happen any day now, but we can help stop this — champions in Congress want to preserve free speech and tell us that an international outcry would strengthen their hand. Let’s urgently raise our voices from every corner of the world and build an unprecedented global petition calling on US decision makers to reject the bill and stop Internet censorship. Click below to sign and then forward as widely as possible — our message will be delivered directly to key members of the US Congress ahead of the crucial vote:
For years, the US government has condemned countries like China and Iran for their clampdown on Internet use. But now, the impact of America’s new censorship laws could be far worse - effectively blocking sites to every Internet user across the globe.
Last year, a similar Internet censorship bill was killed before reaching the US Senate floor, but it has now been refashioned and is back on the table. The new draft grants the government and big corporations enormous powers to force ISPs and search engines to prevent access to sites blacklisted because of allegations of online infringement. But the bill goes even further, also targeting service providers for not doing enough to track and enforce infringement rules, or for providing tools to help US Internet users access sites on the blacklist. Any website can be blocked by the order of a federal judge, without even being found guilty of any crime.
US free speech advocates have already raised the alarm, and some key senators are trying to gather enough support to stop this dangerous bill. We have no time to lose. Let’s stand with them to ensure American lawmakers preserve the right to a free and open Internet as an essential way for people around the world to exchange ideas, share communication and work collectively to build the world we want. Sign below to stop the US Internet Blacklist:
In the past months, from the Arab Spring to the global Occupy Movement, we’ve seen first hand how the Internet can galvanize, unify and change the world. Now we can stop this new attack on Internet freedom if we stand together. We’ve done it before. In Brazil and Italy, Avaaz members have won major victories in the right for a free Internet. Let’s galvanize our global web community and crush the most powerful censorship threat that the Internet has ever seen.
Luis, Dalia, Diego, Emma, Ricken, Aaron, Antonia, Benjamin and the rest of the Avaaz team
Avaaz.org is a 10-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 13 countries on 4 continents and operates in 14 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.